Sunday, June 30, 2013

Car Shopping

I bought a new car the other day....and today I sold my old one.  It's a sad....but happy day!

Since I commuted so far for so long, I put a lot of miles on my old car.  I bonded with that car.  I will miss it very much.  I will especially miss the beautiful blue of it's slick body style....a color Honda no longer makes.  

I bought a black Honda to replace it.  My first Honda, back in 2000 was black and she was a very good car.  So, I'm hoping my new black one will live up to it's proud ancestry.  

My dad buys and sells cars frequently and he has many, many cars.  I'm not sure you bond with your car when you have as many as he does.  Most of us only have one car.  They take us so many places....with so many people.  When I think of how many people have ridden in my car....and how many of them are long gone...  Well, it's an interesting thought.  That car outlasted relationships and friendships.  

On a different note, I negotiated my new car all by myself.  No dad, no husband, just me.  And I got a fantastic deal.  I couldn't be happier with any of it.  I then sold my old car to a student at my alma mater, which makes it all seem like destiny.  


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Emily and Einstein

I finished a book I began on the plane back from Alaska: Emily and Einstein by Linda Francis Lee.  It was an unexpectedly good one!  Here's the review I posted on Goodreads:

I was given this book to read by my mother, who had picked it up at the airport for a long plane ride. She said she thought I would enjoy it.

And I was surprised by how much I did like it. It's the story of a young woman trying to come to terms with her life, however imperfect it is. And since her husband has just died, she has many obstacles on this journey of self discovery.

Any one can see bits and pieces of themselves in Emily - and Einstein.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Before Midnight

Have you seen the BEFORE movies?  BEFORE SUNRISE, BEFORE SUNSET, and BEFORE MIDNIGHT more specifically.

These movies tell the story of Jesse and Celine (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy), their up and downs, over the course of almost twenty years.  These movies are amazing and, if you watch them, one of them will get to you, on a very profound level, I guarantee.

The first, BEFORE SUNRISE, sees two idealistic college students meeting on a train in Europe.  They immediately feel a connection and get off the train together.  They have until sunrise and in those hours, they form a rare connection - the kind all of us wants.  They promise to meet in six months. 

The second movie, BEFORE SUNSET happens almost ten years later.  Jesse has written a book and, while on his book tour, runs into Celine.  We find out if they met up again and if there is still a connection.  

The latest movie, BEFORE MIDNIGHT, set almost ten years after the last, tells the story of what happens when romance is rare and real life is inevitable.  It was released into theaters last weekend.  

I saw the second movie first.  It's actually still my favorite one.  It hits deep for me.  I think it's also the best movie - it takes place in real time and the conversations and revelations are stunning.  When I saw the first movie, I felt almost disconnected from the idealistic youths on the screen.  Sure, everyone wants to meet their soul mate on a train in Europe...but I guess my life was so different from theirs.....I just can't empathize with college-age Celine and Jesse.

SUNSET guts me every time.  MIDNIGHT hurt.  I honestly felt pained watching the last one.  It's almost too real.  But it's also a superb film.

These movies are about human connections, life, and love.  They are not action-packed and, therefore, are not for everyone.  They comprise entirely of conversations between two people.  But the acting is superb.  The characters are real - they're you and me.

I highly recommend them all.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Alaska Cruise: Mendenhall Glacier and Nugget Falls

When you hear people talk about their cruises to Alaska, you hear half of them bemoan the weather.  It's usually very rainy and dreary.  Sun is rare....though it's technically "up" from 3am to 11:30pm.  Our only rainy day came in Juneau.....the day I would see my first glacier.  

But, as the captain of our ship said, "there is no bad weather, only bad clothing."  And with that in our minds, and umbrellas and slickers at hand, we set out for Mendenhall Glacier.

This was our first glimpse.  I was amazed!  

It started drizzling on our hike out to the glacier (about a 15 minute walk), but it stopped after only a few minutes.  I'm so glad we did not let the weather deter us.  I loved this place!

Nugget Falls, right beside the glacier, was a sight to behold!  I was in awe of this view!!

And it's not everyday you see icebergs.....(look closely) with eagles perched on top!

The clouds threatened again as we walked back, but I was happy!  Glaciers are not something a Texan sees everyday! 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Alaska Cruise: Juneau

On our cruise, we also stopped in Alaska's capital - Juneau, the only state capital not accessible by road.  It was a bit bigger than Ketchikan, yet it did not feel so.  

We wanted a bird's eye view of the town so we took the Mount Robert's Tramway up the mountain overlooking the town.  I was a bit nervous to be dangling above dense trees but it turned out to be a lot of fun.

The view was worth it!

They had gotten record snowfall this year on the mountain, so there was quite a bit left.  In fact, a lot of the trails on the mountain were closed due to the snow.  

Also at the top, the operators of the tramway had rescued an eagle.  After an accident, this pretty girl suffered an eye injury that keeps her from being able to hunt.  They keep her well-feed on fresh salmon.  

I greatly enjoyed our time in Juneau.  We even managed to do a bit of shopping!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Alaska Cruise: Icy Strait Point

The second port on our Alaska cruise was Icy Strait Point.  It's a port built by the cruise lines just outside the village of Hoonah.  

This was our first glimpse of it.  I also saw my first eagles while looking at this view! 

The cruise lines built museums and shops here. 

There's also a nature trail through beautiful forest.  It was so beautiful and quiet there.

We then walked into the town of Hoonah, about a mile away.  I was eager for some exercise and it was a nice morning for a walk.

And we had several bald eagle sightings on the way!

It was a lovely, unstressful day in port!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Dead Ever After

On the cruise (actually, mostly on the flight to Vancouver), I read Charlaine Harris' last book in the Sookie Stackhouse series, Dead Ever After.

This is the review I posted on Goodreads:

Finally, the last volume of Sookie Stackhouse's journey.

I must admit, I knew where - and with whom - Sookie would end up. I'm sure many other readers knew, as well. That made me a bit unenthusiastic about reading this book, though it's sad to admit. There were not many surprises in this book but it was good to see Sookie's troubles, hopefully, come to a close.

The villain of the book did surprise me, so at least there was that.

Though I like this series, I'm glad to see its end. Ms. Harris writes good fiction but not great fiction. She entertains and, even though Sookie is completely dumb and utterly vapid at times, has created a great set of characters. I will miss them all.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Alaska Cruise: Misty Fjords

 In Ketchikan, we hopped on a seaplane to tour Misty Fjords National Monument.  I really have no idea why this area is a monument versus a park or preserve.  Nonetheless, I was still a bit nervous about the plane....but I was determined to enjoy the experience. 

And, wow, what an experience!  Taking off and landing on water is AMAZINGLY smooth!  I never would have thought!

After leaving Ketchikan, we headed to Misty Fjords.  Thankfully, the weather cleared up and we had sun - sun!  Our pilot was amazed by the it's apparently pretty rare!

The scenes outside my window were incredible.  I quickly snapped photos, afraid I would miss something.

Halfway through our flight, we landed on pristine Manzoni Lake.  I've never seen anything so beautiful!  I clenched my teeth, descended the steps of the plane, and took some photos from the pontoon. 

Soon, we were in the air again.  We flew over a waterfall....and rainbow!

The entire experience was a bit surreal.  We landed and soon we were back on the ship.  What a great day! 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Alaska Cruise: Ketchikan

Our first port of the cruise was Ketchikan.  I really liked this small town, which is the Salmon Capital of the World - or so they claim.

We did some shopping here, despite a few sprinkles.  Ketchikan, it turns out, is the rainiest city in America, averaging 16 feet a year!  

Ketchikan, seen from our seaplane.
 Next, we headed to our seaplane tour of Misty Fjords National Monument.  Eek!  I was still apprehensive.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Alaska Cruise: Sail Away from Vancouver

 We boarded our ship around 11am and headed straight to the Windjammer for lunch.  After that, we explored the ship.  

I must say, I love this class of ship.  Royal Carribean does such a great job!

Above, the beautiful Centrum.

Though we usually don't eat in the dining room, it is very pretty!

As if Vancouver had not impressed us enough, it was even prettier from sea!


And they even have floating gas stations!  


I loved seeing mountains rising from the sea....  We would see a lot of this over the course of the week and, yet, I never tired of it.

We even got to sail beneath a bridge as we left the harbor.  It was my first time under a bridge while on a cruise ship.  For some reason, this seems significant.  

Oh, yes, and Vancouver has very beautiful seagulls. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Alaska Cruise: Around Vancouver

 We're back from our amazing Alaska cruise and I have so much I want to share with you!

First off: Vancouver.  When we booked this cruise, I was very disappointed that we could not spend any real time in Vancouver  This would be my first trek into Canada and I was sad that I would not get to explore one of its biggest cities.  

We arrived shortly after midnight on Friday, having flown from DFW to Seattle to Vancouver.  Our dark drive to the hotel proved what I'd seen online: the city was so neat!!  The road of our hotel was immaculate.....and we were not in a trendy part of town.  

The next morning, we awoke early, as usual.  We got ready, met my parents at breakfast, and then walked outside to explore.  We knew there was a city park behind the hotel and it was just as pretty as GoogleMaps said.  

Minoru Park is beautiful.

We walked along the trails in the chilly morning air and were delighted to find rabbits hopping happily around.  

There were also geese...and baby geese!

Why, oh why, can't we have parks like this at home?! 

I was utterly charmed by it all.  We all were! 

After exploring the park, we packed up and checked out of the hotel.  We were bound for our ship: Radiance of the Seas.  

Friday, June 7, 2013

June Page

For my June page, I went back to Graphic 45's monthly paper series.  However, most of the subject matter had to with weddings and sweethearts.  Ack!  I found a few things that would work and used cardstock from Studio Calico's monthly kits.  (And our June picture is not actually of Dooku!)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Flight of Gemma Hardy

I finished a good book the other day entitled The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey.  It's a modern re-telling of the story of Jane Eyre.  

Here's the review I posted on Goodreads

The story of Jane Eyre was a favorite of mine so when I saw that this was a re-telling of the tale, I eagerly picked it up.

Livesey has written a very nice novel. My main problem with Jane Eyre was her love of Mr. Rochester: it was incomprehensible and unbelievable. I loved the rest of the story, just not the love story. Livesey writes a more believable romantic tale, I think, which adds greatly to the overall story of Gemma Hardy.

However, Livesey adds some tangents to Gemma's life that made me like her less. All in all, however, I could understand why Gemma did what she did - and understanding a character's motives are important, even if you don't agree with their actions.

I'm glad to have read this.  

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Workout Videos

Since I workout at home, mostly with videos, I am constantly on the lookout for new videos to keep me going.  I'm a bit OCD about my workouts; I will do them religiously, long as I'm interested in the videos and feel like I'm seeing results. 

With the help of Netflix, I've tried a lot of videos.  Some are annoyingly simple, some are fun, and others are hopelessly dated.  But I've found some good stuff and, over the years, have definitely become more fit.  And, in so doing, have found it more and more difficult to find challenging workouts.  

Some random thoughts on what I've seen...  Jillian Michaels is annoying but difficult.  I hate instructors who don't actually do their own workouts beyond the first demonstration.  However, I may give Jillian a third chance later on in the future.  I like Kimberley Spreen, though she hasn't produced much recently.  The same goes for Violet Zaki.  I use both of their older videos.  Ellen Barret does fun yoga/pilates...when I'm looking for something lighter and less challenging.  

My new favorites, and those who work me out almost every day now, are  Jari Love and Michelle Dozois.  I like Michelle's older work but her new Peak 10 series is incredible.  I've never been worked so hard with her cardio strength and interval cardio workouts.  Holy cow!  I highly recommend them if you're advanced and need some new, fun stuff.  You'll sweat like crazy!  

Jari Love has been around since 2005 or so and I discovered her videos over a year ago.  Recently though, in an effort to focus on my legs, I started doing more and more of her videos.  Some in her Get Ripped! series are mainly weights with arm and leg work.  You'll do bicep curls for five minutes, squats for five, deadlifts for five, then lunges for five, etc., etc.  This will definitely make you burn.  Some of her other workouts have cardio interspersed with the same crazy leg and arm work.  They're a real challenge.  

Alternating each day between Michelle and Jari, I'm really seeing results in my legs - for the first time in my life!  It's a very slow process....but very exciting!

I hope this gives you some ideas if you're looking for a new workout!